Written by Janaye
I awoke to a strange mixture of sounds that ended up being my alarm. At La Quinta I can always hear voices that lead me to think i’m running late and everyone is awake before me. To my surprise it was just before 6:30am and it was the perfect time to meet kelli for a morning run. I dragged myself out of bed while trying to open my eyes all the way. I was happy to see kelli coming up the stairs because that meant I didn’t have to suffer my way back up them as if they were Mount Everest. I had made up my mind to not go on a run and go back to bed. My stomach was teetering on the edge of pure sorrow.
I got up a few hours later with the plan of skipping the sketchy breakfast at La Quinta and eating at the infamous cafe everyone had been talking about the day before. I looked over the balcony to see who was awake and something caught my eye. It was so golden, so round, and so epic. It was pancakes! I went downstairs like a child on Christmas morning with a big smile on my face. As I headed back up stairs my stomach made me feel as if were jumping on a trampoline after consuming a meal with a small bottle of quetzalteca. Damn La Qunita had sucked me into eating there again, I mean it is free.
A large group of us embarked on our journey to this peaceful cafe in the middle of a nursury. The table was covered by a wooden gazebo overgrown with plants and vines. I wasn’ t sure what to order at first but I ended up with a Guatemalan coffee. No big deal it’s a small cup of coffee right? Wrong, that nice peaceful cup of smooth coffee spiked my day. I became light headed so I had Melissa order me a bottle of water. To be exact it was called “watta” and had a picture of a camel on it. Makes complete sense dosen’t it?
I mosied back to La Quinta feeling light headed but I didn’t want that to ruin my day. A small group of us wanted to hike up to the famous cross where you can over see Antigua and some of Guatemala’s spectacular volcanos. We all cramed into a small van like sardiens to share the ride with those going up to the work site. We got dropped of at the bottom of the stairs and my first thought was to mentally prepare myself for this immence struggle up to many stairs to count. Little did I know it was the quickest and easiest trek thus far. Pictures seen on the internet do not do this view justice. I feel exteremely lucky to be in Guatemala, capturing moments like these in my mind. As usual there were Guatemalan’s trying to sell things to us as we walked around and snapped pictures. Most of the time I politely say no, but this time I got suckered in. After a few of us bought some hand crafted items the man proceded to give us all a free bracelt as a gift for new years. By this time I have collected two bracelets and I have a feeling many more will come home with me, each having its own story and glourious memories attached. I went to stand in the shade and happened to turn ever so slightly to the right. Standing about 100 feet away were a pair of Guatemalan cops, one holding a shot gun. Although this is not the first time I have seen that here, it still causes uneasy feelings and remids me that “we are not in Kansas anymore”.
We made our way back down the stairs but only got about halfway before geting into mischief. We saw this concrete structure that resemblied a slide and some mysterious pieces of cardboard. After David tested it out I quickly followed. The best part was going around the bend but shortly after, the slide ended. We walked back into Antigua and Evan led us into an amazing market with vivid colors in the textiles where items seemed to be hand crafted. As soon as I walked in I spotted this mask on the wall and I couldnt help but ask “Cuanto questa?” or “how much?”. I knew I could bargain at markets but I needed to shapen my skills. The price asked was 100 quetzales and I eventually got her down to 70 quetzales witch is about 9 dollars! This work of art had a cheif like face that was a dark wood and two green quetzals for the head dress. For some reason I wanted to wait to buy it, although now I wish I snagged it while I had the chance. I can’t stop thinking about how awesome it would look on my wall and how it is a great reminder of my improving bargaining skills. I am looking forward to visiting that same artisan market again.
After the market Kalika, Shae, and I made a lap or two around central park to find “Luki”, a woman who sold hand made scarfs instead of the mass produced scarfs made in china. It was unsuccessful but we will not give up yet. The three of us headed back to La Quinta and I immediatly grabbed my journal to catch up on the days I had failed to write about.
Around 5:45pm the entire group headed to La Union for a celebration dinner with a few of the home stay families and others who helped make our journey possible, such as Erbin, Jaun Carlos, and some of the Vuelta Grande kids that helped dig trenches at the work site. All of the amazing people we have met along the way have welcomed us with open arms, and as Karl stated “allowed us to use the worksite as a classroom”. It’s really a great feeling to know that I am always welcome here at La Union and in Antigua. It makes me feel more confident in my decision to come back next year to learn Spanish and finally bombard that language barrier with a wrecking ball. I am honored to be a part of this program and I can’t wait to continue to make the world a better place through engineering.
About an hour after arriving back at La Quinta there were crazy noises coming from the terrace. It started out somewhat mellow then all the sudden sounded as if Noah’s arc was being loaded with animals that were stampeeding over the tables. At certain moments there were more screams of struggle than others but generally this atrocious noise was repeating and circling around like a sound wave oscillating, fading out and coming back. On top of that craziness there were particular sounds of silver clinking together or hitting the floor. What could possibly be happaning? Were the walls going to cave in and the ceiling crumble as if it were collapsing on top of everyone in La Quinta. If anyone were brave enough to slowly crawl up the stairs to the terrace and peak there head around the corner they would find…..a bunch of engineering students, including me, getting rowdy and competitive, playing an intense game of spoons.There was a bit of pushing, scratching, strategizing, and slamming on the table but it was all fun and games that brought us all that much closer.